These days, Bono is pretty much treated like a joke due to his overzealous humanitarian efforts and the way in which he uses his clout for high profile activities that don’t really have anything to do with his or his band’s music. One key thing about this is that he has so much clout and influence because somewhere in Bono’s past, behind the charity concerts, the meetings with world leaders, and the didactic speeches, is the Bono of U2, who wrote and sang some of the most memorable songs in the world. The same Bono who co-wrote With or Without You.
The third track from U2’s 1987 album The Joshua Tree, With or Without You is the quintessential U2 song, being the group’s most successful single of all time, as well as their first number one hit in both Canada and the United States.
With or Without You is basically a troubled love song, with Bono’s lyrics symbolizing his conflicting feelings regarding his double life as a musician and a domestic man. It features one of the most recognizable riffs courtesy of U2 guitarist The Edge’s prototype Infinite Guitar, and is U2’s most frequently covered song.
With or Without You is currently ranked 132 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.